BTS Aerial Photography of the VOLVO Ocean Race

Is it better to fly in a helicopter or use a drone when documenting action sports? Greg Beadle takes us through the gear and how he gets his shots, and we look at what the advantages are of being up in the air compared to flying a drone.

Beadle just came back from Davos where he documented the world leaders discussing the issues we face and how to overcome them. He's now back in Cape Town where he was commissioned to shoot the start of the Volvo Ocean Race Leg 3 from Cape Town to Melbourne.

Pros of Being in a Helicopter

Quality of the Files and Dynamic Range

You have a full-frame camera. Beadle shoots with a Canon 1D Mark II. He's got dynamic range, a larger file and Canon's unique colors that makes it such a valued piece of equipment and brand. 

Variety of Lenses and Depth of Field

He can alternate lenses and choose which one suits the shot he wants and can alternate between them. He can get up close, shoot wide or do what is needed within seconds. He mostly shoots with the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens and his latest acquisition is the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens

You're On the Mark Quicker

When you are physically up in the air your eyes are darting all over and you have a better idea of what would make a great photo. With a drone you're watching through a monitor, and you can only see what's around you through that screen. So searching for the shot can take longer with a drone. 

Two Instead of One

In the film industry it is possible to have two people operating the drone. One person will be flying the drone while the other pans the camera and takes the shots. But, when you have a pilot that knows your style, you can get to locations they know will make for your unique photographic style to flourish. 

Permissions and Safety

They obviously had permissions in place to do this, and with that you'll also get some red tape. But, for these events Volvo will most certainly want images they can use in all their marketing materials. Helicopters and drones don't go together, so it's either or in this professional action photo session.

Pros of Flying a Drone

Cost Savings

I once heard a DJI drone fan say, "an hour in the air with a helicopter is a drone thrown out the window." Meaning the cost of an hour in the air can actually afford you a great piece of equipment.  

Video Options

Drones are stabilized, and if you want to get some stock video to load up on to your preferred stock library, a drone will certainly be able to do this. 

You Can Get Closer

You have no propellors that influence the people racing down below. You can therefore, if it's safe to do so, go down lower and get shots you might not be able to get with a helicopter. 

All images used with permission from Greg Beadle.

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1 Comment

Stas F's picture

I thought it was going to be BTS for this Volvo race